Japan makes plans for rescue of 57,000 Japanese in South Korea and refugees coming from the North if crisis ensues

Neil Connor
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un - EPA

Japan’s National Security Council discussed on Friday what measures it would take to evacuate the country’s 57,000 citizens from South Korea in the event of a crisis.

The talks were held as tensions continued to escalate in the region over a possible nuclear test by North Korea, and as a US aircraft carrier group steamed into the region.

Tokyo would seek approval from Seoul to send military aircraft and warships, along with civilian transport, reports said.

Japanese leaders were also concerned about large numbers of refugees arriving on boats, and also the possibility of North Korean spies entering Japan.

However, there was concern among leaders that any preparations would cause alarm among the public.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on Friday that the government was always collecting and analysing information about North Korea's moves but refrained from commenting on details.

"At present, we are in close contact with the United States and South Korea and in addition to urging (the North) to refrain from provocative actions and observe relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, we will take all necessary steps to protect our people's lives and assets," Suga said.

Japan began working on plans to respond to a potential crisis on the Korean peninsula in February, after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Trump at a summit in the United States, Kyodo news agency said.

North Korea bizarre kim jong-un

Attendees at a Feb. 23 NSC meeting forecast a crisis on the Korean peninsula could prompt large numbers of refugees turning up in boats along the coast of the Sea of Japan, Kyodo said.

The attendees called for preparations for a humanitarian response along with tightened security given the possibility that North Korean soldiers could enter Japan pretending to be refugees, Kyodo said, quoting unidentified government sources.

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